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Meet David John Oates
Discoverer of Reverse Speech

In 1961 the song "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha, Ha" was released by Napoleon XIV. On the flip side of the record, the entire song was played in reverse. Recorded as a joke, both forward and reverse, this song about an insane man was an ironic beginning for the audio technique that would eventually give birth to Reverse Speech, a technology that has therapeutic benefit in cases of mental illness.

Soon after, the Beatles planted some reverse messages in the Sergeant Pepper album, as a publicity stunt to bolster failing record sales. The fad caught on, and other groups added backwards messages to their music. Teenagers worldwide began to play their vinyl LPs in reverse to find the messages put there. I am old enough to remember comparing what I found with the findings of my friends. Most of the messages were placed intentionally with a technique called backmasking. We were unaware at the time that some of the messages were occurring spontaneously, and that we were listening to what would later become a revolutionary tool to explore human potential - Reverse Speech.

In 1980, researcher William Yarroll II began a scientific inquiry into the possible effects that Rock and Roll music might have on the brain. His postulates included the idea that there could be subliminal effects that stimulated behavior in unsuspecting listeners. Although his personal interest was purely scientific, his theories were used by religious fundamentalists to support the belief that Rock and Roll was the music of Satan, and that the negative reversals that could be found were demonically inspired. They failed to account in any way for the many neutral and positive reversals that could also be found. This fear-based reaction gained momentum, as well as political interest. Stairway to Heaven was played backward during the California State Assembly in 1983 in an attempt to censor Rock music, and that same year Senator Bill Clinton introduced a bill to the Arkansas House of Representatives that would require disclaimers to be placed on record albums warning listeners about the dangers of subliminal messages. Neither of these attempts succeeded.

David John Oates ran a halfway house for youth in Australia at the time, and was concerned by their fears, inspired by the fundamentalist evangelists, that Satan was giving instructions to them in Rock music. He decided to prove them wrong by playing the music backwards to demonstrate that nothing was there. Taking a tape player that had been dropped into the toilet, and rewiring it, he accomplished the backwards play. He was astonished to find that there were, indeed, intelligible messages to be found. He also discovered that in addition to the back-masked messages intentionally placed, there were also messages not placed on purpose, but occurring naturally. The very first message he ever heard, David Oates found in Stairway to Heaven. It said “Play backward. Hear words sung.” That phrase became the Oates mantra, and was the beginning of Reverse Speech. The ignominious tape recorder now hangs on his office wall, a testimony to humble beginnings.

Following years of research into the nature of speech reversals in music and conversation, David went public with his information, wrote books, appeared on radio and television, and moved to the United States . Public response was strong, especially to reversals from personalities in the entertainment industry, the media, and government. His credibility had grown to the point that when he wrote to Senator Claiborne Pell’s office about a reversal that was recurring in the speech of government officials, specifically the word simone or simoon, the intelligence community took notice. It became known that simone translated in Arabic to Desert Storm. Oates had inadvertently revealed a code word to the secret military offensive well in advance of the action. This discovery was unfortunately followed by sufficient harassment to cause Mr. Oates to return to Australia , where he continued writing, and developed the Reverse Speech Radio Show. His public appearances and training seminars worldwide continue to strengthen the international standing of Reverse Speech technologies and their future.